Our Dewyers/Dwyer Family

Polli Jost Turner, Editor

Mary Francis Dewyers is a mysterious figure in the Turner family history. The family tradition has been that Mary's mother (who was half Native American) died at her birth, and her father returned to his native country of France. She spent at least a part of her life in an orphanage, and at some point was adopted by Tim and Betty Dewyers. Researching her life has proven to be very difficult.

If this information were true, Mary should be found with the Dwyers in some census, probably the 1880 census. Instead, I have not been able to find them in any census at all. However, I did find a marriage record for Tim and Betty, in 1870, in Falls County, TX, giving their last name as Dwyer. Family information says that Mary was born in Marlin, the county seat of Falls County!

In the course of my research, I have come to believe that Tim and Betty were Mary's natural parents. Mary must have died in childbirth, or shortly after. I can't find any trace of Mary until the time of her marriage, but I have found another Timothy Dwyer in the 1880 census, married to a woman considerably younger than himself, with children young enough to be a second family.

My belief is that after Betty's death, Tim left the child with someone who could care for her better than he could, perhaps an orphanage, and moved on to Coryell County, where he remarried and raised a family.



First Generation --Mary Francis Dewyers Turner
Timothy Dwyer, married (April 5, 1870, in Falls Co., TX) Elizabeth Spencer, "Betty," born 1847/48. Eva Turner Bell once said that the Dwyer family came to Texas from Tennessee.
Later, Eva told Aunt Veta that Mary’s father was French, and her mother was half white (father) and half Comanche Indian (mother). Another time she said the mother was Cherokee.
We notice that in their family Bible, Mary spelled her last name as Dewyers. So, when I received a photocopy of Tim and Betty’s marriage certificate from the Falls Co., TX, County Clerk’s office, I was surprised to find that Tim’s name was spelled Dwyer. I have never seen the name Dewyers anywhere else, but Dwyer is a fairly common Irish name.
In earlier days, orphan children were often not officially adopted, rather a family just took them in, and the children would keep their own names. A family may have taken her in, and she kept her parents’ name. Not having been taught the proper spelling, she and the adoptive family just spelled it as it sounded, "Dewyers". I am still trying to find a grave for Betty, which should clear things up--if she died very early, then she was Betty’s natural mother. In that case, Tim was probably Irish, as Dwyer is an Irish name, and he may well have remarried.
Mary Francis Dewyers,
"Fannie," born Jan. 15, 1870, in Marlin, Falls Co., TX; died Dec. 12, 1937, in Pomona, CA, of stomach cancer; 67 years old. Mary married
William Ellis Turner.
Yes, Mary birthdate is four months before Tim and Betty's marriage date. However, if she were raised in an orphanage, it's very possible that her birth year was assumed or forgotten--I have seen other cases where people had used the wrong birthdate all their lives! If Mary were actually born in 1871, we would see that her birthdate was actually nine months after their marriage!



I did find one Timothy Dwyer in a nearby county, Coryell Co., in the 1880 census (see below). He was 35, his wife Vivien was only 23, and they had three children under the age of five! It is very possible that this was Mary’s father, and that after placing her in the orphanage, he moved to another county, remarried, and had another family! Ten years earlier, he would have been 25, and according to their marriage certificate, Betty was 22 at the time of their marriage. An interesting point is that Tim was not found in the Coryell Co. census in 1870!

From the 1880 Coryell Co., TX, census records, and a marriage record, and cemetery records:
Timothy Dwyer, born ca. 1845, in Ireland, died 1903, in Coryell Co., TX; about 58 years old. Both his parents were born in Ireland. Married (Feb. 21, 1875, in Coryell Co., TX) E. Black, born ca. 1857, in TX; died 1926, in Coryell Co., TX; about 69 years old. She is named Veria on the 1880 census, and Bina on her grave. Both were first buried in the Sugar Loaf cemetery. When the military took over the area, the graves were disinterred and moved to the nearby Killeen City Cemetery. In the 1880 census, Tim and Bena have three children:
1. John D. Dwyer, born ca. 1876.
2. Mary E. Dwyer, born ca. 1878.
3. William Dwyer, born Jan. 1880.
Two more Dwyers were buried near Tim and Bina, both the correct ages to be their children:
4. Bob Dwyer, born 1882, died 1959; 77 years old.
5. Dan Dwyer, born Nov. 8, 1885; died March 2, 1948; 62 years old.



Family information
Mortician's records
Various Texas county records and censuses

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March 15, 2006
Polli Turner

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The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds!
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Psalm 145:17&18 (NASB)